PROTECTION FROM CONCEPTION TO DEATH TOP PRIORITY FOR US ADMINISTRATION
In a stunning change of direction from the Obama administration, the Trump Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not only declared that human life begins “at conception,” but has made protecting citizens “from conception to natural death” one of its top priorities. While the Obama HHS under Kathleen Sebelius championed abortion coverage, the HHS under Trump’s pick Tom Price proposed in its newly released draft “strategic plan” to rescind that mandate and defend life and religious liberty. The strategic plan, dated September 2017, sets goals beginning in 2018 and ending 2022. The proposed plan states that HHS will serve and protect Americans at “every stage of life, beginning at conception” and up through “natural death.”
The HHS specifically states under the first goal of “Reform, Strengthen, and Modernize the Nation’s Health Care” that its “ultimate goal is to improve healthcare outcomes for all people, including the unborn.” Pro-lifers are cheering the proposed plan while abortion activists have expressed outrage. “The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (AAPLOG) applauds the recognition that human life begins at the ‘moment of conception’ which, when rightly understood, is the moment of the fusion of the sperm and egg,” Executive Director Dr. Donna J. Harrison said. National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said that the plan was a “positive step forward to that day when all unborn children are protected.” 40 Days for Life President Shawn Carney said that it was “very encouraging to see the new HHS effort to confirm what science has been telling us, life begins at conception.”
Clarke Forsythe, Senior Counsel at Americans United for Life (AUL) said the HHS addition of “beginning at conception” in reference to protecting lives “accurately reflects current state law.” “Thirty-eight states now have a foetal homicide law and thirty of them begin legal protection at conception,” he said. “In addition, there are court cases and legislative declarations in nearly all of the states stating that the life of a human being begins at conception.” “It’s appropriate that HHS should bring its mission into line with the legal protection of human beings in current law,” Forsythe said. Jim Sedlak, American Life League Executive Director, said that no one should be surprised that the HHS strategic plan under the administration of “pro-life President Donald Trump” differs from the strategic plan put together by the “administration of the most pro-abortion president in American history, Barack Obama.”
Sedlak said some are portraying the HHS changes as “somehow anti-woman.” “When will these people realize that about fifty percent of the babies that will have their lives saved through a more pro-life approach will be female?” he told LifeSiteNews. “It is incredible that, in 2017, there are still people who deny that every human being’s life begins at Stage 1-A of the Carnegie Stages of Human Development,” he added. Sedlak said the HHS changes merely reflect scientific fact. “The addition of the words ‘beginning at conception’ is not a radical departure but simply a clarifying phrase,” he said. “The phrase is necessary because many abortion supporters want to deny that the term ‘every stage of life’ includes life stages that occur before birth.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said that Trump’s HHS administration is stating “the obvious” in the proposed plan. “It’s a sign of the power of the abortion lobby that it’s big news for HHS to acknowledge the kind of science every kid learns K-12: that a new human life is created at the moment of conception, growing, responding to stimuli, exhibiting all the signs of life that NASA keeps looking for on distant planets,” she said. “At least our government now proclaims what we all learned at grade school: a new human life begins at conception,” Hawkins concluded, “and we should treat those unique persons with the same respect we expect for ourselves.” Lila Rose of Live Action commented that the change to the HHS mandate “might be five little words, but its meaning is deep…”
EUROPEAN ACADEMICS WARN PROTECT BORDERS AND RESTORE MARRIAGE TO SURVIVE
“In the roiling sea of sexual liberty, the deep desires of our young people to marry and form families are often frustrated. A liberty that frustrates our heart’s deepest longings becomes a curse. Our societies seem to be falling into individualism, isolation and aimlessness. It is our duty to speak the truth: The Generation of ’68 destroyed but did not build. They created a vacuum now filled by social media, cheap tourism and pornography.” The Paris Statement, signed by French, Belgian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, English, German, and Dutch philosophers and academics
European conservative scholars and intellectuals have released a manifesto aimed at restoring Europe to its “true genius” and actively recovering “what is best in our tradition.” The manifesto, called the Paris Statement, details how “technocratic tyranny” and “false freedom” prevails in Europe, threatening its very existence as well as the Christian roots that undergird it. The statement, releasedOctober 7, lists concerns about the growing secularization of Europe, Muslim immigration, and the rise of a “false Europe.” It outlines ways Europe can return to respecting the sovereignty of its nations, overcome “isolation and aimlessness,” and restore “true liberalism.” “The true Europe is at risk because of the suffocating grip that the false Europe has over our imaginations,” it says.
“Our nations and shared culture are being hollowed out by illusions and self-deceptions about what Europe is and should be. We pledge to resist this threat to our future. We will defend, sustain and champion the real Europe, the Europe to which we all in truth belong,” the authors state. These false ideas about Europe are “invincibly prejudiced against the past,” they add. The “patrons of the false Europe” are “unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing.” “Sunk in prejudice, superstition and ignorance, and blinded by vain, self-congratulating visions of a utopian future, the false Europe reflexively stifles dissent,” the authors continue. “This is done, of course, in the name of freedom and tolerance.”
The authors wrote the statement after a meeting last May in which they took a sober look at the current state of European politics, culture, society, and the state of the European mind and imagination. The authors state that instead of “simply wringing their hands in fruitless anxiety, or adding yet another tome to the ample literature that diagnoses ‘the decline of the West'” they decided to write a statement about what makes Europe great and how it is being threatened. The Paris Statement says that solidarity and civic loyalty must be encouraged, so that justice may be pursued. Europeans must not be “passive subjects.” “It is our duty to take responsibility for the futures of our societies. We are not passive subjects under the domination of despotic powers, whether sacred or secular. And we are not prostrated before implacable historical forces. To be European is to possess political and historical agency.”
CHRISTIAN GROUP INTERVENES TO PROTECT EUROPE FROM SHARIA LAW
Legal group Christian Concern has intervened in a case concerning the application of sharia law in Europe. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is set to rule on an inheritance case concerning the application of sharia law to a dispute between Greek citizens who are Muslims. The ruling will determine whether sharia law can have supremacy over a member state’s domestic law. The court granted Christian Concern permission to intervene in the case of Molla Sali v. Greece. According to Christian Concern, Ms Molla Sali inherited the entire estate of her husband when he died under the terms of a will that he had drawn up in accordance with Greek law. Two sisters of her husband are claiming that since her husband was a Muslim, the inheritance should be allocated according to sharia law, adjudicated by the mufti.
There are provisions for sharia law to be applied to Greek nationals who are Muslims. The charity said the case is important because “a ruling at this level could have dire effects on the Council of Europe’s 47 member states, including the United Kingdom.” Also, rulings of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights cannot be appealed. Christian Concern said it will highlight in court that Sharia law is out of line with European law. It said in a statement: “A network of sharia courts is operating across the country, creating a de facto parallel legal system which undermines the fundamental principle of one law for all. The intervention also highlights the discriminatory nature of sharia law which means, for example, that non-Muslims cannot inherit from Muslims, and females only inherit half of what is due to males.”
It added: “Sharia law is fundamentally incompatible with human rights, and our intervention explains that the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights restricts freedom of speech and freedom of religion, as does the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, whose expertise was used in the intervention, commented: “Sharia law is based on the inequality of certain kinds of persons whereas western law is based on the equality of all persons. Muslims, like people of any other faith, are free to practise their faith, but because sharia is incompatible with western law, it should not be given supremacy over the law of western states. The specific case in this part of Greece is based on an historic agreement that should not be applied to the rest of Europe or taken as a precedent for the rest of Europe.” The case is set to be heard in the Grand Chamber on 6 December 2017.
The persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history, a new report has revealed. Speaking at the launch of ‘Persecuted and Forgotten’ by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the study’s co-author, John Pontifex, said Christianity is on the brink of being wiped out in certain countries. He said: “We’ve got a ticking time bomb going on here, in that Christians in certain parts of the world haven’t got very much time left for their situation to be resolved. “The ticking bomb is particularly expressed in the extent to which there is a migration of Christians. In Iraq there were 1.2 million Christians 15 years ago and there are now barely 200,000 left. “If that rate of decline continues, what we’re going to see is an end to Christianity in the foreseeable future.”
His claim was supported by Archbishop Issam John Darwish, Melkite bishop of Zahle, in Lebanon, who was one of four speakers invited to the charity’s event at the House of Lords to give personal accounts of Christian persecution in their countries. He told the attendees of the event chaired by Lord Alton of Liverpool, that the number of Christians in the Middle East is declining because so many have fled. He added: “We urge Syrians, and especially Christians to return to the homeland. We ask that Western Governments stop facilitating the immigration of Christians from the Middle East.” The report also found that the scale of persecution against Christians in China, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and Turkey had worsened in overall terms between 2015 and 2017, than within the preceding two years.
Saudi Arabia was the only country out of the 13 reviewed where this persecution remained unchanged. The report highlighted the point that “it’s now or never to save Christians from persecution” and it’s vital to share light on the plight of Christians around the world. The report concluded: “At a time in the West where there is increasing media focus on the rights of people regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexuality, to name but a few, it is ironic that in many sections of the media there should be such limited coverage of the massive persecution experienced by so many Christians.”
US JUDGE UPHOLDS CONGRESSIONAL PRAYER DESPITE ATHEIST CHALLENGE
Congress will continue opening sessions in prayer after a challenge to the tradition by an atheist. A federal court ruled against the lawsuit brought by Daniel Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Barker argued he was denied the opportunity to give an opening invocation in Congress while other guest chaplains were allowed to do so. U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer said in her decision that House rules didn’t allow Barker to lead the prayer because he had left his faith. Collyer also pointed out opening prayer has been a part of Congress for more than two centuries and it doesn’t conflict with the establishment clause according to the United States Supreme Court. House Speaker Paul Ryan was quick to applaud the decision saying “Since the first session of the Continental Congress, our nation’s legislature has opened with a prayer to God.”
“Today, that tradition was upheld and the freedom to exercise religion was vindicated. The court rightfully dismissed the claims of an atheist that he had the right to deliver a secular invocation in place of the opening prayer,” Ryan said. “Recently, especially following the return of Majority Whip Steve Scalise, this institution has been reminded about the power of prayer. I commend the District Court for its decision, and I am grateful that the People’s House can continue to begin its work each day taking a moment to pray to God,” Ryan concluded. Scalise also responded to the decision on Twitter saying, “Our rights come from God, so it’s only fitting that the House begins each day united in prayer.” Barker says Collyer’s decision was tainted by her “personal bias against nonreligious people.” Collyer was appointed to the court under President George W. Bush.
California’s governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have prevented faith-based organizations from enforcing their own ethical codes and standards. Many religious organizations ask new employees to sign a code of conduct that aligns with what the Bible says about abortion, contraception, and extra marital sex. The Assembly Bill called these provisions discriminatory and says they should be banned. The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal defence organization, strongly opposed the bill and was prepared to file several lawsuits with multiple plaintiffs, had it been signed. “We are relieved that Gov. Brown chose not to extend state prohibitions into areas of religious life,” Brad Dacus, the president of the institute said. “It is essential that churches, ministries, and religious schools continue to have the freedom to expect employees to practice what is preached.”
“This bill would have required, with heavy fines and even criminal penalties, religious institutions to tolerate employee behaviour directly contradicting the organizational mission,” he explained. “This bill was deeply unconstitutional, and we are thankful it has been vetoed.” However, Dacus says churches and ministries aren’t out of the woods yet. He warned that a majority of California lawmakers voted in favour of the bill and could try to resurrect it, especially when a new governor is elected. It is also expected that copycat legislation will be proposed in other deep blue states.